This Year’s Conservative Agenda Is Still All About Trump

The schedule for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just dropped—and Trump is a big part of it.
February 22, 2021, 6:35pm
President Donald Trump kisses the American flag after speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, at the National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
President Donald Trump kisses the American flag after speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, at the National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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Despite President Trump now being former President Trump, the GOP’s agenda at its annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) still includes a lot of him—and the issues his administration prioritized. 

The American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, released its schedule on Sunday for the “America Uncancelled”-themed conference, which is being held in Orlando this year and begins Thursday. (The conference is usually held at the National Harbor in Maryland; last year’s iteration, however, turned into a coronavirus superspreader event.) 

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Not only is Trump delivering the keynote speech, but several of the events—like "So You’ve Been De-platformed. Now What?”—are clear signs that the conservative movement will continue to talk about the culture war issues Trump emphasized during his time in office. Trump, perhaps the most unpredictable and consequential Twitter poster of all time, was kicked off of the platform after the January 6 riot at the Capitol, which has further fueled his longstanding crusade against social media companies. 

The conference will also focus on issues such as immigration, China, antifa, and the threat of the left. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, fresh off the most expensive trip to Cancun he’ll ever take, is set to deliver a Friday morning speech called “Bill of Rights, Liberty, and Cancel Culture.” (Millions of Texans don’t have clean drinking water right now.)

Other seminars during the four-day conference include: 

  • “Why the Left Hates the Bill of Rights… and We Love It,” featuring Utah Sen. Mike Lee
  •  “The Way Forward: Unlocking Our Churches, Our Voices, and Our Social Media Accounts,” a speech by Florida Sen. Rick Scott
  • “Big Tech Is for Sale and China and Russia Are Buying”
  • “Sell Outs: The Devaluing of American Citizenship,” with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and former Trump strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp. 

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There’s also a seven-part series over the course of three days focusing on the 2020 election, including panels like “Other Culprits: Why Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence,” and “Failed States (PA, GA, NV, oh my!).” The former will feature Rep. Mo Brooks, the Alabama House Republican who led the objection to President Joe Biden’s election win by Congress on January 6.  

Both Republican and Democratic federal and state election officials have found that the Trump campaign and its supporters’ allegations of election fraud are not backed up by evidence, and the Trump campaign and its allies have lost dozens of lawsuits attempting to overturn or cast doubt on the results. 

Still, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of the results; Brooks proceeded to baselessly claim the riot, which left five people dead, was orchestrated by antifa. In addition Brooks, both Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley—who led the objection to Biden's election win in the Senate—will be appearing at CPAC as well. 

Then there’s “The Left's Assault on a Free People: How Government, Big Tech, and Media Are Colluding to Deprive Us of Our Humanity,” a four-part series featuring Rep. Matt Gaetz, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, and Jeff Brain, the founder of pro-Trump social media site CloutHub.

For all of the talk about cancel culture, however, CPAC has been unwilling to share its platform with many Trump critics in recent years. 

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney previously won the CPAC presidential straw poll—which serves as a key gauge of right-wing support for potential presidential candidates—four times, including in 2012 when he won the Republican nomination. But Romney wasn’t invited to the conference last year after voting to impeach President Donald Trump in his first trial; American Conservative Union president Matt Schlapp said at the time that he “would actually be afraid for [Romney’s] physical safety.” And this year, the conference’s speakers won’t include Romney or any other House or Senate Republican who voted for Trump’s second impeachment. 

And one other person who won’t be a presence at this year’s CPAC? Former Vice President Mike Pence, who was heavily criticized by Trump and his supporters for not backing Trump’s play to overturn the results of the election. Schlapp told USA Today that Pence had declined an invitation, calling it a “mistake.” 

“His conservative record is well respected, and conservatives want to hear his take on the current threats posed by socialism and this radicalized Democrat party,” Schlapp told USA Today.